Don’t Be Afraid When Things Get Sticky! – Interview with Tracey English
Don’t be afraid when things get sticky, because a whole new adventure can come out from a mess! When illustrator and surface pattern artist Tracey English was looking for new forms to create after returning from a long break, she and collage instantly clicked! Since then, this creative exploration has taken Tracey on a journey to snip and stick together a delightful world of animals, nature and cities, adding sunshine to our day. Scroll for more uplifting energy and be prepared to get INSPIRED!
AWW: Hello Tracey! Your hand-painted paper illustrations and patterns are so full of life! The colourful animals, fruits and nature make our day just by looking at them. What message or feeling do you want to convey through your creations?
Tracey English: I love creating with collage and so I hope that my passion shows through the work I produce. I always plan to create fun, uplifting, positive illustrations and surface patterns.
AWW: As we know, you were trained as a textile designer and have worked in various different mediums. How did you find your love for collage?
Tracey: I discovered my love for collage while taking an online class called Make Art that Sells back in 2014. After returning to illustration from a long break whilst my family grew up, I was looking for new inspiration and ways to work. We were encouraged to experiment and this was the start of my new creative journey.
AWW: It’s very therapeutic to watch you snipping and sticking from your Instagram videos. What’s your approach of transforming your inspiration into lively creations on paper?
Tracey: I rarely draw a rough first unless requested by a client. I normally start by researching my topic, finding some reference and from there I begin to create some suitable textured coloured papers. I also have a stash of papers from past projects that I can dip into as well. Once I have all the relevant coloured sheets, I start snipping out the shapes freehand. If it is a little bit tricky to get the right shape, I might draw it on the back first so that I have a guide to cut by. I generally cut a good proportion of the image out before I start to stick things in place.
AWW: What is your secret of staying motivated and cheerful?
Tracey: I am usually quite an upbeat person. If I'm feeling unmotivated I tend to take myself out for a walk with my dog, go for a coffee with a friend or have a browse online. There are always lots of inspiration and visual delights to be found if you take a scroll through Pinterest.
Tracey’s dog, Daisy.
Tracey’s cat, Jelly.
AWW: Buildings and cities are a recurring motif in your work. Are you a city explorer yourself? Do you have any favourite getaway places in London?
Tracey: I do love cities and buildings, and there is nothing better than to explore different areas of my home city. Since Covid I have been keeping to the local districts. I live in South West London in a borough called Wandsworth and very close to Wimbledon Tennis. My favourite places around London are mainly near the River Thames as I love to be near water. Luckily the neighbourhood where I live is within walking distance of the river and that is always my number one destination.
One of Tracey’s favourite places, Neal's Yard.
Wandsworth Park in London.
Battersea, overlooking the River Thames.
AWW: Can you share with us one interesting encounter with animals in London?
Tracey: In London now we have flocks of ring-necked parakeets. There are lots of myths about where they may have come from originally, one of these being that they escaped from a film set of The African Queen in the 1950s but that doesn't make much sense as they haven't really become a feature until around 15 or so years ago. So it really is a mystery but there are estimated to be at least 8,600 breeding pairs and every night we have flocks of them flying over our garden.
AWW: What’s your future goal or dream project?
Tracey: I would love to be able to create some puzzles in the near future, that would definitely be a future goal.
To find out more about Tracey English, please visit the artist’s IG account | @traceyenglish
All images provided by Tracey English.